Friday, November 30, 2007

Preparing for the inevitable

I have just sent off The Email to my work to inform them of my Return To Work date. The reality of the impending time is really hitting home and I sit here feeling sad and unenthused.

It's not the place that I dread. My workmates are all very congenial and pleasant and I very much enjoy their company. I love the child care centre that we use and the carers that are there. It is a wonderful place with high quality care, plus next year I will have four nieces there as well!

No, what I dread is leaving my daughter, and missing out on all her marvellous developments. I'll miss her gorgeous smile whenever she looks at me, and even her cries when she's upset. I guess I won't miss changing dirty nappies, or the really horrendous screams when she won't go to sleep. But I don't look forward to the guilt of leaving her, and the worry that she'll be okay at child care.


I don't even want to think about all the new things I'll have to get my head around actually at work, and being overwhelmed by it all.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Our tenants want a dog

Before we moved to our current house in the 'burbs we lived in the inner-city in a small terrace house 5 minutes' walk away from work and child care. It was cramped but convenient, in a not-so-good area.

It was a big decision to move out here, 20 minutes' drive away, but in the end the lure of a BIG house (we have seven bedrooms!!) and the help of grandparents next door was too great.

So we did some minor renovations to the old house - paint, new carpet, fixed up the downstairs shower/toilet area - and now it is being rented out to students. We've been quite happy about the tenants, and the income helps immensely with the mortgage payments!

And now they've asked permission to get a dog! Of course I'm happy for them to have it, but the backyard is only 3m² and I'm worried about the creature's well being. Oh well, that is not for me to say anything about. I'm sure they will take care of it and give it lots of walks.

I'm waiting for the day our boys ask to get a dog. I wonder if they ever will? We have, after all, three cats so perhaps will stay a cat family. But Dan and I both had family dogs growing up (well, we got ours when I was 14 when my uncle gave her to us while my father was overseas). They are a lot of work, but fun to train and have around. I think I wouldn't mind it too much... although the cats certainly would.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A talented bunch

This afternoon was the Grand Final of Dante's school's Talent Quest. It's not a big school - less than 200 students - and yet there were 23 acts on show, after several heats and semi-finals.

When Elora and I first arrived, half way through (we had to catch a train in), there were a couple of kids singing... like 8 year old generally sing. I expected the rest of the show to be the same. However, some of the acts just blew me away! One of the girls singing reminded me of the young chick from Love Actually, so wonderful! There were a couple of other kids who were pretty good as well. The most spectacular act, and the winner of the day, was a boy called Ash who put on an amazing break dancing display. Head spins, an amazing moon walk, that body flipping thing. The cheers were phenomenal. He was just incredible.

Afterwards there was a sausage sizzle (to raise money for Unicef) and a disco for the kids. Atticus was in his element. Big kids' playground, dancing, sausages. Elora loves the big brother of one of Dante's friends.

The only down point of the evening was when we lost Atticus. I was with Elora, Dan had come to get the change mat from the pram and when he went back to the playground, Atti was gone. I was slightly concerned as the back gate (onto the street) was open and he could have run out there. We searched the disco, searched the grounds but he was nowhere to be found... until finally I found him! He was in the girls' toilets trying to get his nappy off! What a brilliant young thing! I was so impressed. He'd dirtied himself, but was happy to let me clean him up. Then off to the dancing he went. Trying out his break-dancing style.

I wonder if next year Dante will be interested in entering the comp. We'll see!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lunch success!

I missed yet another post yesterday. Not doing too well here. I guess I could have backdated something, but I'm too tired to do even that (plus it's cheating).

But, I have a very good reason. I had my school friends and their children over for lunch yesterday (as I have previously mentioned.) It went really, really well. The house was clean due to me actually being organised enough to do some tidying on the weekend (with terrific help from Dan, of course). Lucky I did that, because...

I spent the first two hours of the day at the hospital with Elora.

We don't know what was wrong with her but she sure gave us a scare. She woke up crying and didn't settle when Dan went in to get her (I was downstairs vacuuming). When he brought her to me she looked positively green, pale and limp. I offered her a breastfeed and she showed no interest whatsoever. This is really unusual for her. She has always been a good drinker. She just closed her eyes and fell asleep in my arms instead. I quickly took her to my parents to ask their advice. She seemed cold and clammy and we were all quite worried. A quick phone call to my GP brother and off to the hospital we went.

Of course, as kids do, she started perking up in the car and by the time we got to the Emergency Department (five minutes later) she was much, much better. Had a feed, started getting mobile and active again. What a relief! Two hours later we were able to go home, without a diagnosis but orders to keep an eye on her because of Atti's history of convulsions.

The rest of the day alternated between worrying about her (she slept for a good couple of hours once we got home) and trying to be a good host to my guests. Thank goodness they were all completely understanding, and we had a wonderful lunch and visit. I was so glad for their company on a day that would have otherwise been miserable.

You should also know that I didn't complete the quilts which I was making for the baby boys. We had such a busy weekend that I knew I'd have no hope of getting them done. I was hoping to have at least quilted one to show them what it would be like, but my plans were thwarted. Anyway, I showed them the quilt tops and they were suitably impressed. Yay!

So anyway today I was utterly exhausted. Just spent the day lazing around with the kids as much as possible. Elora's been a pain in the neck, not sleeping much at all, and Atti has been getting up to mischief a little bit. Cheeky little thing that he is. He just smiles and laughs and one can't help but smile and laugh along with him, it is so contagious. Now it's after 11pm and the baby girl is still screaming her head off. We've been trying to get her to sleep for the last two and a half hours and she has not been cooperative. I've given up and am just going to let her cry now. It's all we can do.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fruit salad, yummy yummy

Today we celebrated our belated Aussie thanksgiving. Much like last year except with TWO enormous turkeys this time! Yummo.

We brought our huge fruit salad, as per usual. Instead of going to the local fruit shop I went to Sydney's biggest produce market with my mother early yesterday morning.

Oh how I love the markets! I have fond memories of accompanying my mother when I was little - with the enticement of having a doner kebab for breakfast/early lunch. And it was just as terrific now as then. Aisles and aisles of stalls filled with vast amounts of fruit and vegetables. Plus the fish market down at one end as well as a deli section and the odd kebab van, still there after all these years. I wish I had brought my camera with me. So many colours! And the smells! Delicious.

The part I love best is the "exotic" section. Well, not so exotic to some, but new and interesting to me. That's the Fijian/Indian section with their baby eggplants and fresh okra and I don't know what else! This time of year is great because all the summer fruits are coming in (hmm... cherries, white nectarines) so the variety is huge. I loved the stalls selling just mushrooms, too. So many types! All fresh and undoubtedly yummy.

I tried not to go too overboard, but wasn't overly successful. Who can resist strawberries at $1/punnet? Trouble is, you need to buy an entire tray to get them at that price. I think we're doing well - we only have 7 left (out of 15).

So, yeah, now we're swamped with fruit. Our fridges (yes, we have two) are full and that's after Thanksgiving. The challenge to eat it all before it goes bad is on. I'd say we're doing all right. My boys (and the girl now) lurrv their fruit. They're going to be getting heaps of it this week. Yay!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Big day for Australia - first female deputy PM!

I failed NaBloPoMo - missed a post yesterday. I can't believe I did that! Yesterday was a busy day for me. Had a bad night on Thursday night, not getting to sleep until 3am because Elora woke up as I was going to bed and it took ages to get her back to sleep. Installed (with my father's help) insulation in the roof space adjoining Elora's room, but of course the weather has taken a turn again and I can't find out how much of a difference it makes! Then spent as much of the day as I could making these:

I'm pretty pleased with how they've turned out. The borders make a big difference. They're not big quilts (3' x 4') so now I've just got to quilt them and attach the binding. By Monday. I'm running behind schedule a bit, but we'll see if I can get them done. There's a third one that's underway as well, but they can't make it so I've got a little bit of extra time. Phew!.

Anyway, the most exciting thing right now is that we Aussies more than likely have a new Prime Minister tonight as today was our Federal Election. And even more excitingly it looks like the outgoing PM, John Howard, will actually lose his seat and hence his job! Unbelievable! All I can hear on the television are cheers.

This is the happiest election coverage I've watched for a long time. Our soon-to-be Deputy PM, Julia Gillard, is sitting at the anchor desk along with an MP from the outgoing government. I love watching the body language of the two opposing politicians. As the night progresses Julia's grin gets bigger and bigger and she sits upright and perky. The Liberal guy has been trying to keep his spirits up, pouncing on every positive Liberal point he can ("The postal votes still need to be counted...") but as he gets more and more bad news he slouches more and more, supporting his head with his hand and trying not to look too dejected. He's not doing too bad a job actually.

So things are looking up for this country. Hopefully some big changes will be made (I'm looking at you, WorkChoices). Funding for education, troops out of Iraq. Greens in the balance of power in the Senate. Yay!

Now to finish those quilts off.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Alphabet stamps, found at last!

How about that. I found the alphabet stamps that I was looking for! Well, they're not exactly what I was thinking of - waiting for Nov. 30 when Leslie from good-ness will update her shop. Hopefully I can also get those lovely Japanese ones.

However, these were AUD$2.99 from the scrapbooking section of our local Kmart and just the right size. How could I not get them? They will do the trick for these boys' quilts. I don't have a fabric stamp pad but I've discovered that painting them carefully with a brush doesn't do too bad a job.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thursday-like Wednesday

I had a productive day, craftwise, today. Sewed together some blocks. Cut them up into quarters. Sewed them up again into more blocks. Sewed these blocks together into strips. I haven't finished piecing the quilt tops together yet but hopefully will be able to do it tomorrow!

The reason for all this sewing? More precisely, the reason why I was able to get so much done was because Dante didn't have his piano lesson today. His teacher cancelled last week so he went to after care and I didn't have to pick him up from school, which gave me an extra four hours (big) kid free. Yippee! And tomorrow's Thursday! I've mentioned before that Thursdays are my best day of the week.

Hopefully after tomorrow I'll have three of these (but sewn together), maybe even with borders attached, quilt sandwiched and ready to be quilted. We'll see. I've got a nice man coming to tell me about air-conditioning in the morning.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Girls vs. boys

I think I've mentioned a few times that on Monday afternoons I pick up Dante and a couple of his friends from school and take them to gymnastics (at a gym near our house, luckily enough). It's a great gym (one of the sons of the family that runs it is an Australian Olympian!) - well equipped, large, friendly. I remember going there for sport when I was in primary school. My mother said that it used to be a cinema, a long time ago.

Anyway, the main thing that exhausts me about this is the drive from school to gym. Those two boys (Dante and his friend) drive me bonkers! They are loud, silly, exuberant, boisterous. D's friend always brings rice crackers for afternoon tea which they eat in the car... should I say "eat"? More like inhale. The container is usually empty in not less than five minutes. The only quiet-ish time during the journey.

They cannot sit still. Sometimes I have to yell at them to "Stop yelling!". They eat like... like 6 year old boys. When we get to the gym they run around giggling, carrying on and making silly noises. I feel sorry for their teachers. When we get home they fight over the playstation (I want to be green. No, I want to be green! Mama, he hit me! Give that back! Heheh... that was funny. Do it again... Blah blah blah <insert silly noises and perhaps some jumping up and down>). Yesterday while I was getting the car ready (putting Elora in her seat, moving booster seats around), they thought it would be fun to lick the brick wall of the school. I don't know why. They are weird little creatures.


everything they do is on show. It's all obvious, out there for all to see. There's no subterfuge. I guess they're too busy DOING to think about being sly.

The other six year old friend whom I take to gym is female. I never really appreciated what different creatures boys and girls of this age are until she started coming along, even though I see the same behaviours in my 8 year old niece sometimes, and probably in the 5 year old one (especially once she starts school).

The first week Dan picked up the three kids, he remarked that the girl actually brought negative noise to the car. The three kids were quieter than the two boys alone. Probably mostly because he'd separated the boys. It's lovely having a girl around. She's so much quieter, neater and polite. She doesn't scream and yell. She's not afraid to ask for what she wants. She does get the raw end of the deal when it comes to those rice crackers.

However, now that she knows us better (even though we've known her since she was 11 months old!) she's starting to get a little comfortable and... sneaky. A couple of weeks ago we had an incident with her gym money ("We were in a rush this morning and I don't think my dad gave me all of the money") being mysteriously short by the same amount as a chocolate milk from school. Her parents were quick to rectify the situation!

Yesterday when her dad arrived to pick her up I found her in the pantry (and heard the fridge door being quickly closed). She said to me, "You have lots of nice food," and we carried on. I didn't think anything of it, until I found a chocolate wrapper on the floor near the fridge today! Tricky little thing had helped herself to the box of choccies in there. Oh well, I'm not going to tell her father - I would have happily given it to her if she'd asked (white chocolate - I've gone off it and Dan doesn't eat it).

But I've learned my lesson. Girls are quiet, but in the end they are still up to mischief like the boys, and a lot sneakier about how they do it. While the boys are being riotous and disruptive, girls use the distraction to get their own way or do their own thing. Not knowing how to handle girls, I sometimes become anxious and acquiescent. They get away with a lot more than the boys do.

What I've got to look forward to with Elora. I'd better start learning how to handle things before she gets to that stage!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Travellin' the world

I always wanted to travel - see the world. I had grand plans. I wanted to live and work in London, New York, maybe even West Coast USA. Anywhere, as long as it was somewhere different, new and exciting.

Well, I went to Uni straight from school, and then spent the next several years hanging around there. Spent some time in the Torres Strait one summer. Travelled around Oz with my folks the summer of 95/96 using my brother's frequent flyer points.

I did go to Japan when I was 15 for a school exchange. It was a nice trip, especially the home stays, but my travelling companions could have been better. Oh well. One day I'll get to go back and take the family. And there was the trip to SE Asia when I was 8 of which I have three memories - I lost my favourite shirt/jumper in Bangkok, watched "Big Bird in China" on the tele in Hong Kong, and ate bread fresh from the oven at the family's bakery in Singapore.

Anyway, Dan and I have managed to take a couple of trips overseas since we've been together. The first was a neat trip from Bangkok to Singapore, over land through the Malay peninsula. We spent Christmas day at the Thai Royal Palace, and New Years Eve on a beach/eco "resort" called "Dawn of Happiness". (And I got really bad food poisoning.)

The next trip we took was even more of an adventure, for me. Egypt. Three weeks. Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor. The most amazing place. Full of history. Also full of sand. And heat. I highly recommend it. Just don't get duped by dodgy papyrus sellers.

We had plans after that trip. We were going to go and live in the USA and work in Silicon Valley for a while, then move on to London and see Europe. We'd even set a rough date to be gone by. Of course, it never happened. I fell pregnant with Dante a month after we got home. And that was the end of that.

Maybe one day we'll still get our chance to try living in a different city or country. When the kids are older. But I can't bear the thought of them being so far away from their grandparents. And I would sorely miss my family (and the help they give)! So, for now the dream remains just that.

And now, some pics:
Me at Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand.
December, 1998

Dan and I at the Great Pyramids of Giza, Cairo, Egypt.
I had the world's worst haircut at the time.
June, 2000

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Kids at play

Today was our typical fortnightly family tennis Sunday. Not that we actually went. Dan slept in until after 11am and Elora napped half the morning. But at least Dante went down to the tennis courts with my mother and his cousins.

After some time (longer than it felt) the troops descended upon us, bored of the park, hungry and hot. They swarmed through our house and finally settled in the lounge room where the older two boys (my 13 year old nephew and his friend) were playing Guitar Hero III (they'd come back earlier). Atti upended the two big buckets of Duplo and they got stuck into it.

What a delight it was to watch these kids aging from 2 to 8 years playing together and separately. Even Elora got in on the action. I couldn't resist taking a picture to save the moment.

It's so great to see them all together, happy and not fighting (the latter didn't last too long). If only the other three grandkids had been around! We would have had the full complement.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Is this a post?

If I write a post to say that I won't be writing a post, does that count as a post?

I've been doing very well with my NaBloPoMo posts... haven't cheated once! But tonight I cannot write. I've been sniffly and hayfevery all day and it has cumulated in me being totally wrecked tonight. So I'm going to bed (after sleeping on the couch for the past hour or so). Sorry, readers!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Weight lost

Well, I'm proud to be able to say that I am finally back to my pre-pregnancy weight. Yippee! It took a lot longer to get here this time around. Third time around.

The weight came off but the figure will never be the same. I've got this little tummy that hasn't gone away. Soft, squishy with stretch marks along it... Atticus has taken to slapping it gleefully whenever he gets the chance. Elora grabs little handfuls of skin and pinches my belly button. I know I need to do more sit-ups (or crunches... whatever) but the thought repels me. Too bloody lazy!

And anyway, I'm not feeling too upset about this little pot belly of mine lately. I think of it as a badge of honour. I've had three children and I'm proud of it.


Let's see how long I stay feeling like this. Perhaps the next time I put on my bikini?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quilts for the three boys

I mentioned that I was having some old friends over for lunch. It was meant to be this coming Monday but I've postponed by a week since one of the girls can't make it (but unfortunately another one can't make it the following week) and mainly because the new oven hasn't been installed yet (but at least we have it now).

Well, I've actually managed to start on some small quilts for the three baby boys (even though one won't be coming now). They'll be blue-green-white cot/lap size quilts, all three basically the same but I'll try and vary the layout of the blocks. Hoping to personalise them somewhat as well, depending on how I go for time. Not sure how to go about labelling them - I'd hoped to have some small alphabet stamps and fabric ink pads by now! (I've been looking for them - does anyone know of anywhere in Sydney that has such things?)

In the past few days I've managed to cut out all the pieces (not including the borders - always do that afterwards to get accurate sizing) and sew some of them together. I love chain piecing - looks like lovely bunting!

Anyway, here's a pic of my new sewing workspace - not incredibly large or very tidy, but that's me to a tee. Sorry about the poor quality photo... it's terribly late and I should be in bed. Dan's off at a conference today and tomorrow so I've been doing the drop offs and pick ups. So much driving. Ack!

(That big white thing on the right is my sewing machine with its cover on, for those that may have been wondering!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Developing fast

These kids are getting smarter every time I blink. I'm constantly amazed by what they are capable of.

Tonight when Atti got home from child care, he was hungry. He saw the box of Weetbix on the bench, grabbed himself a bowl and a spoon, carried them all over to the table, sat down and requested help. So I obligingly got out the milk, opened the box and gave him one biscuit. He happily sat down and started eating.

In the meantime, our new oven arrived so I went out the front to thank my father's friend (who ordered it for us and delivered it). When I came back to the kitchen, there was Atti, gobbling down his second Weetbix biscuit with milk splashed all over the table. He'd opened the box, got out another one, unscrewed the lid of the milk and poured it into his bowl. All by himself. With hardly any mess (there wasn't much milk left in the bottle).

I am completely blown away by his display of initiative and independence. And so proud! He can be such a delight! (He can also be a little rascal at times.)

And Elora. As Captain Feathersword would say, "Well, blow me down!". She said "cat" this morning. I'm certain of it. We were finishing breakfast and she was looking at our moggy sleeping in the morning sun.

"That's the cat," I said. "Cat."
"Ca-" she repeated.
"Cat!" I said again.

I quickly grabbed her and ran next door, astonishment on my face. On the door mat was one of the other cats.

"Look, Elora. There's Grey. Cat. Cat."
"Ca-" she said again.

Unbelievable. Can you believe it? I certainly cannot. She hasn't done it again... yet. Could it be an insane coincidence? Probably. But still, it's pretty amazing.

Oh, and she's still trying hard to get that walking happening. And the gap in her teeth has filled. She's got four up top and two down bottom now.

Time is whizzing past. They are developing so quickly. I'm even more reluctant to return to work when I think of all these little moments and milestones that I'm going to miss. I just don't know what to do about it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Weird hair

Something weird has happened to my hair... I look like the character Lovelace from the film "Happy Feet":

Sort of.

It's because of something that happens during pregnancy. My hairdresser told me about it. Your body is so busy growing a baby that it doesn't have time to kill off hair follicles, so your hair gets really thick because hardly any is falling out. Then, about three or four months after you give birth (or thereabouts), all that excess hair falls out. Almost in clumps! It's quite incredible the amount of hair that came out of my head. Keep in mind that my hair is waist length! And thick anyway!

Now, almost nine months after having Elora, all that hair that fell out is growing back, so I have fuzz that is now about 2" long on my head. And around my temples it sticks straight out from the scalp. The curse of Asian hair. So I look like Lovelace.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Jazzy!

My niece, Jasmine, turns 5 years old today. Unbelievable that it's come up so fast. Next year she starts school and I can't wait to see her in her little school uniform. So cute!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Reddened knees

Took the kids to Toddler Proms this morning - they all had a wonderful time listening to the teenage Peter Seymour Orchestra (part of the Sydney Youth Orchestra) playing classical music, with the conductor talking about each type of instrument. Dante made his presence known, of course, by answering questions very enthusiastically (compared to his extreme reluctance to go in the first place, perhaps because of the word "Toddler" in the title?).

After a quick lunch with my brother Chris and his family, we came home and Dan took Dante to a 7th birthday party - tenpin bowling! Apparently it was fun. When I asked Dante afterwards if he had a good time at the party, his response was "Yes." and that was it! This from a boy who usually talks incessantly about everything and anything, including describing his current actions, then repeating what he said... ("Look, I drew Four Arms. See? I said, I just drew Four Arms, Mama. Did you hear me? Can you see him? I drew him...") Well, he was watching the last episode of Ben 10 at the time, so his mind was elsewhere.

Anyway, feeling tired and unwell for some reason tonight so I'll leave you with this picture of Elora's legs, crossed so daintily while she's sitting in her high chair. Look at those poor knees, so red from all her crawling exploits.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Did I mention before? Elora's got two consonants now.

The first was B. bub-bub-bub

And now she's got M. mum-mum-ma-mum

And she knows what the latter sounds mean, alright. When she's tired or upset or hungry she just looks at me (if I'm not holding her) and sings out "Ma-mum-ma-mm". If she's on the floor she crawls over to me and grabs at my legs, pulling herself up on my pants. Sometimes I'm mean and step away (especially when I'm busy, in the middle of something), and she calls out "Ma-mum-ma-mmm" again and chases me (in a slow, crawling kind of way).

Gorgeous little thing!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Must stop spending

I've been reading numerous craft blogs and getting lots of ideas for quilts to make... and so many of the crafters out there talk very proudly about only using their "stash" to make things.

In the past I've tried designing stuff using just what I have but I always felt like I needed something more - a bit more green, some plain colours, something else to match... well, lately things have been getting a bit out of hand. I've been spending too much. The dangers of online shopping, and the absolute delight at receiving parcels in the mail. Today I received a big parcel (half of it my mother's) that I bought online and managed to pop out for a short while to get a few more bits and pieces.

But the good news is that finally, I think my stash is stocked well enough! I've got about half a dozen quilts planned, ready to be cut up and sewn together. My sewing table is pretty much set up (just need to clean off residual mess) so that I'll be able to do something when I have a spare ten minutes... I may actually get some projects completed!

And so I decree, publicly, no less, that I shall not buy any more fabrics until I have executed all the plans in my head. Hmm... I wonder how long I will last.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Friends for lunch

Well, I've committed myself now! I've invited some of my school friends over for lunch in a week and a half. We get together every so often, usually out to a restaurant for dinner. But in the first five months of this year four babies were born so our get-togethers are now daytime ones while we're on maternity leave (and the other two gals work part-time).

So now I need to work out what I'm going to feed them - I'm sure they won't be fussy but I feel like I need to make something nice! Plus the house has really gotten out of hand these last few months and is going to need a really good going over. A good excuse to clean up, I guess!

Except instead of getting to it, all I can think about is what cute crafty thing I can make for the babies. There are three boys, Evan (born Jan), Max (beg. March) and Christian (May), and Liam just turned four! Don't forget to add Atti to the mix. Poor Elora is going to be completely out-numbered, but I guess will get her pick when they get older :)

Hmm.. don't want to be too ambitious, but want to hand-make something delightful. Shrug. We'll see. Thinking of some small simple quilts. Nothing fancy. In blues and greens. And a book bag for Liam with his name appliqued onto it? What do you think?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Poor sick baby

Elora's got the miseries at the moment. She woke up every 3-4 hours last night and I was completely zonked today. Managed to have a nap in the middle of the day... which caused me to get behind schedule for everything else!

At least I finally managed to choose a new oven. My old one died, oh, in August... and I've been making do since (read: using next door's oven) but it's about time we replaced the thing. The only problem, I discovered, is that they just don't make them like they used to. Have you seen inside these things lately? They are tiny! How is one meant to cook a huge roast plus vegetables in one of these modern ovens? My old oven is 60cm wide externally, but inside is 50cm! New ones are 60cm outside but only 43cm inside (at best). My big dishes won't fit.

So my mother and I searched and searched. Found a couple that were almost big enough but not quite. In the end we decided to get a 70cm wide Miele one which is 53cm wide inside. Yay for compromise!

Now off to bed.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Collecting water

So more on the weather.

Raining again today. And supposedly for the rest of the week.

Did I mention that we got a water tank two weeks ago? Actually my father purchased it (two - one for our yard and one for his). 2,250L tank. It's pretty darn big but actually frees more space in the yard because there used to be collections of buckets at that spot. My father's improvised and inefficient version of a water tank.

So, anyway, it arrived on the Tuesday. On the Thursday night we had a moderate amount of rain and were completely astonished on Friday morning to discover that the new tank (in our yard) was not only full, but overflowing. In one night! It's terrific! My father spent the next few days emptying it as much as possible "so that the water doesn't get wasted when it rains again". And we've finally had a drainer come in to properly set up the gutters and stuff (so now my parents' tank is getting water into it, but it's still not full), so instead of flooding the immediate area, the overflow outlet pipes to the drain. That's a relief.

Here's a nifty fact - the drainer/gutter guy told me it. If every household in Sydney were to get a 2,000L water tank, the storage capacity would be roughly equivalent to the Lake Burrajong (Warragamba Dam), Sydney's main water source. A bit ridiculous to build a desalination plant, don't you think?

Well, I'm falling asleep while I type. Day six of this post-daily-challenge and I'm well and truly running out of ideas for posts. Not doing it when I'm half asleep would probably be a good idea. Apologies for typos and incomprehensibility. Zzzz.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Crazy weather

I know I talk about the weather a lot on this blog. It's a bit of an obsession. I always have to know what the current temperature is. I have a nifty utility on my computer (a Dashboard widget) called Degrees Down Under which gets current updates from the Bureau of Meterology and tells me not only the temperature, but the apparent temperature (so I've got two of these widgets). Then there's TheBom which does basically the same thing, and the built-in Weather widget that comes with MacOSX. I also have a thermometer in Elora's room, and would have more around the house if I had them! I don't know why I simply must know what the temperature is, right now. Weird, huh?

Anyway, the weather at the moment is absolutely crazy. In the last couple of weeks we have had 30+ degree days, huge thunderstorms, beautiful sunny days and we were all rejoicing that summer was on its way. Then today it was cool, even cold! I think it was about 18°C today! Brr. I was just about to wash and put away all the blankets and jumpers. And ring up a guy about air conditioning.

Which brings me to another point. Everyone knows that we are having a wee problem with climate change and energy use, right? I want an air conditioner but I have no intention of using it constantly - only on days when the temp is right up there, like mid-high 30's. And it's mainly for the kids' rooms. We've had our febrile convulsion frights and definitely do not want any more of those. But our next door neighbours (the other side, not my folks!) recently installed fully ducted aircon in their badly designed townhouse/duplex. The big outside unit sits in their backyard just under our bedroom window (thanks!) and is noisy as hell. I know this because they use it all the time. Case in point: yesterday was a beautiful balmy 26°C. We revelled in the gloriousness of it. Did four loads of washing. Locked the kids outside all day. Had dinner on the back porch. And then in the evening the cool change came. We opened up the house to cool it down. Lovely.

Next door had their house closed up and that bloody A/C whirring. I couldn't believe it! I would have knocked on their door and told them to open their windows except for the facts that:
- they have no door bell, only a big huge fence around the perimeter of the property;
- they don't have any windows on this side of the house (so presumedly no air flow); and
- the wife is due to give birth any minute now and I know what it's like to be big and huge and hot. Not nice. Especially since she grew up in Europe where they don't have hot weather, apparently.

Oh, and they don't have insulation, either. Well, they do, but it's in big plastic bags in their backyard waiting to be installed. I don't know how they got away with that! Build a house dodgily, rent it out for years and only fix it up properly when you finally move in yourself? Ack. Well, at least they concreted over their entire lawn so they won't waste water by watering it. Unlike the other neighbours next to them who water their garden every day. And they don't have a water tank. But I'll get onto that another day.

Well, I'll stop my complaining now. The neighbours are actually quite friendly, when we do see them. They know my dad better since he was here when they first built the place, and always ask after him. I just wish people would do a bit more to combat these environmental problems, myself included. I guess sometimes laziness wins out, huh?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sewing setup

Yay! Today Dan (at my request) made some space on the desk in our study (by removing the 20" CRT monitor) so that I can have my sewing machine set up permanently. Yesterday I had about an hour when Elora and Atti were both asleep, Dante was busy with the playstation and Dan was out at his mother's place. I wanted to do some sewing, but to do that I would have had to clean off the dining table (which I should do anyway), set up the sewing machine, collect everything I may need... and then the kids would probably wake up. So instead I just did some ironing. :(

I'm looking forward to getting something done next week during the afternoons when the kids are sleeping. Want to start working on Xmas pressies for Atti's carers at child care. I'm going to give them something hand-made this year instead of the usual chocolate or plants!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Oops. Bad wife.

It was a busy and tiring week for us... the weather played havoc with my memory... the children use up all my energy... the growing piles of housework (dishes, laundry, ironing) are getting me down... new crafting ideas are filling my head...

Excuses, excuses. Last night I got an SMS from my brother:

Happy Anniversary Auntie Jenny!

Oops. I forgot our fourth wedding anniversary! But it's okay, because Dan did too.


Friday, November 02, 2007

Picking a child care centre

After last night's rage against For-Profit Child Care Corporations, I thought I should write a quick post with some advice for parents looking for a child care centre for the first time.

When I first fell pregnant with Dante, someone very wise gave me advice to put my name down for care straight away. I duly did as advised, choosing the centres closest to my work and then promptly forgot about it, being distracted by pregnancy and then looking after a newborn. However, as the time to go back to work loomed closer, I realised that I probably wouldn't get a spot in that very busy child care centre and I started looking around for other places. In the end I put my name down at seven centres. Only one was able to provide me with two days a week from when Dante was seven months old.

I was so happy to get a spot in a child care centre at all that I didn't really think too much about the QUALITY of the place. It was hard enough leaving my first born son to strangers, let alone think of government regulations and cost.

However, over the time I was there I became more and more uneasy about the place. They weren't very friendly to me, just knowing me as "Dante's mum". I didn't get much feedback from the carers. Whenever I was in the centre I felt like I was being rushed out and felt unwelcome. There were always kids crying, kids with dirty faces, kids with runny, dirty noses. Once when I was dropping Dante off, I heard a child screaming in the cot room for the entire twenty minutes without anyone going in to check on him, and I heard the carers remark, "That kid needs to go to Tresillian", as if that was some excuse for their slackness. I also believe that they had way too many kids compared to the number of carers in the room.

At the time I really didn't think about these incidences too much. I did, however, feel unhappy about these two things:

1. They gave Dante a dummy (someone elses!) to keep him quiet (which we didn't finally do away with until he was almost four); and

2. They gave Dante infant formula (I was breastfeeding him), even though I had provided them with expressed breastmilk.

Both of these were without my permission. They didn't call me beforehand or anything. Just did it and told me about it when I went to pick him up.

This was a commercially run centre. Probably why they were so eager to get my business when I rang. I didn't realise how dodgy they were until I finally got a spot in my preferred centre when Dante was eleven months old.

The difference was remarkable!

I felt welcomed. The carers made the effort to learn my name straight away. They wanted me to stay with Dante as long as possible to help settle him in. The kids were always happy and clean-faced. It seemed like there were a billion carers there for the children (it just happened that some kids were away, so the room actually had about a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio that first week. Wonderful!).

I could not believe how different the two centres were run. The first was for-profit. The second was run by a not-for-profit organisation. The fees were comparable, but the quality of the care was vastly different.

And so, I say to you,


I know it's a difficult time, when you have to return to work (I'm feeling the jitters even now), but it makes a huge difference to your child's ability to settle in if you are at a place where you, the parent, feel comfortable.

We have now been with the same centre for six years and the association will continue for at least another three years. We are truly happy there and even though there have been a few times when things haven't been 100% (we had a bit of a staff turnover issue) we still love the centre and all their staff. I always recommend it to everyone I know and next year 60% of my parents' grandchildren will be attending this centre!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

In the neck!

I was just watching the TV debate show Difference of Opinion on ABC and had to turn it off because I was getting so incensed by it. Tonight's show is titled "Handle with Care" and is about the very important and relevant issue of child care. I fully believe that the current ratio for under-2s of 1:5 is too high, and there is a tonne of research and experts calling for it to be lowered.

The reason it hasn't been lowered here in NSW is, I just found out, because the private sector wouldn't stand for it! They'd lose profits! Ack! I am so cranky. Eddy Groves was on the panel representing the private sector. He is so full of it and I just want to punch him. In the neck.


November, already!

Well, we are well and truly into the tail end of the year. Unbelievable. I'm sorry I've been a bit slack with the blog posting lately, but the panic has started to set in. There are only two and a bit more months before I have to go back to work. I can't bear the thought.

The good news is that we definitely have a spot waiting for us at child care for Elora. That's a huge relief, especially considering the huge demand for care in inner-city/inner-west Sydney. I just have to decide on a date for her to start and to start back at work. Still trying to decide if I should wait until school goes back but that's not until the end of January. Hmm.

Anyway, I've decided to join up for NaBloPoMo - 30 posts in 30 days of November. This is a good start :) I've got to get my act together before my maternity leave ends and I've done absolutely nothing with my time.

Ack, ack. Panic, panic.